Econ­omy and pen­sions con­tinue to shrink

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The re­ces­sion in the first quar­ter of the year was deeper than ex­pected ac­cord­ing to a pro­vi­sional es­ti­mate by the Hel­lenic Sta­tis­ti­cal Au­thor­ity (ELSTAT), as the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct shrank 5.6 per­cent against a pre­vi­ous as­sess­ment of 5.3 per­cent.

The fig­ures re­leased by ELSTAT yes­ter­day showed GDP at 37.7 bil­lion eu­ros in the pe­riod from Jan­uary to March 2013 – the low­est quar­terly GDP since 2000.

This new re­duc­tion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity is mainly at­trib­uted to the fur­ther de­crease in con­sump­tion and in­vest­ment. At the same time ex­ports posted a de­cline, which is gen­er­at­ing worries at the Fi­nance Min­istry as the govern­ment is pin­ning its hopes on the strength­en­ing of ex­port­ing ac­tiv­ity be­ing one of the pil­lars on which Greece’s eco­nomic re­cov­ery will be based.

For this year, the me­moran­dum signed by Athens and its in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors pro­vides for an eco­nomic con­trac­tion of 4.2 per­cent, while the Fi­nance Min­istry ex­pects it to be 4.5 per­cent and a re­cent re­port by the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund puts the fig­ure at 4.9 per­cent.

ELSTAT recorded an 8.3 per­cent drop in con­sump­tion in the first quar­ter from the same pe­riod in 2012, with pri­vate con­sump­tion fall­ing 8.7 per­cent and state con­sump­tion slid­ing 7 per­cent. To­tal con­sump­tion de­clined from 38.5 bil­lion eu­ros in Jan­uary-March 2012 to 35.3 bil­lion eu-

re­vealed some 12,000 pen­sion­ers were col­lect­ing four pen­sions ev­ery month from var­i­ous sources (i.e. main and aux­il­iary so­cial se­cu­rity funds). ros in the same pe­riod this year.

In­vest­ment con­tracted by 11.4 per­cent year-on-year, amount­ing to 5.1 bil­lion eu­ros in Q1 this year against 5.7 bil­lion eu­ros last year. Notably, in the last quar­ter of 2012 in­vest­ment came to 5.9 bil­lion eu­ros.

Im­ports de­creased 7.8 per­cent in the first quar­ter of the year, drop­ping to 11.2 bil­lion eu­ros from 12.1 bil­lion in the same quar­ter in 2012. Ex­ports de­clined by 2.6 per­cent on an an­nual ba­sis: They shrank from 8.6 bil­lion eu­ros in Q1 of last year to 8.4 bil­lion this year.

Pen­sions shrink­ing

The aver­age monthly pen­sion in Greece has dropped be­low 700 eu­ros per month as a re­sult of the var­i­ous cuts im­posed over the last few years.

Us­ing data from the re­cently in­tro­duced He­lios sys­tem for the mon­i­tor­ing and pay­ment of pen­sions, it ap­pears that the state pays over 4.4 mil­lion pen­sions, most through the So­cial Se­cu­rity Foun­da­tion (IKA), and the aver­age pen­sion amounts to 694.56 eu­ros per month.

In to­tal the state will pay 2.3 bil­lion eu­ros for main and aux­il­iary pen­sions this month.

‘Ab­so­lute trans­parency’

La­bor Min­is­ter Yian­nis Vrout­sis said that the new sys­tem “is for the first time shed­ding some light on the dark and gray ar­eas of the so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem, se­cur­ing ab­so­lute trans­parency.” This be- came pos­si­ble af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing the pen­sion­ers of all 93 so­cial se­cu­rity funds and pen­sion sec­tions and con­firm­ing an­a­lyt­i­cal data, and af­ter the com­ple­tion of a cen­sus of all pen­sion­ers.

Most pen­sions are paid to re­cip­i­ents in At­tica (1,692,037), fol­lowed by Cen­tral Mace­do­nia, in­clud­ing Thes­sa­loniki (724,087) and Thes­saly (304,552).

Some 12,000 pen­sion­ers were found to be col­lect­ing four pen­sions ev­ery month from var­i­ous sources (i.e. main and aux­il­iary so­cial se­cu­rity funds).

Among the mil­lions of pen­sion­ers there are 9,099 who are for­eign cit­i­zens. The big­gest group are Al­ba­ni­ans (2,252), fol­lowed by Bul­gar­i­ans (1,843) and Turks (1,116).

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